“First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then . . . you win.”
At the Interfaith Peacekeeping and Memorial Service held last month, communication professor Chris Blake said, “The difference between being a peace lover and a peacemaker is the difference between loving money and making money. Peacemaking is hard work, and it never ends.”
In 2012, the United States of America spent $682 billion on its defense and military. In the first eight months of 2014, ISIS and other war criminals killed an estimated 9,347 civilians and wounded another 17,386. In 2013, more than 30,000 deaths were attributed to firearms. Two students are dead and four more were wounded in Marysville, Washington, last week. From Ferguson to Sinjar, violence has spread its wings and gnashed its teeth.
Peacemaking presents a paradox to some. Some think that to make peace, we need to first make war. “We’ve bought into the myth of redemptive violence,” Blake explained. “The idea that to stop killing, we must kill is moronic.”
But how do students at Union College end a myth that has gestated and been perpetuated for thousands of years? Isn’t it easier to join a biker gang and go fight ISIS? Or buy a gun, you know, “just in case”? Isn’t it easier to put a fist in a bully’s jaw rather than stretch yours in a sincere conversation with him?
We would all be lying if we said it was more convenient to actually open a dialogue and stand in loud, optimistic, non-violent opposition to the evils of the world. But giving aid in the shape of bullets, bombs and blood only breeds more of the same.
If you want to get involved with peacemaking on the Union College campus, you don’t just have options—you have opportunities.
Our chapter of Amnesty International is always looking for student involvement in writing letters, volunteering and raising awareness for different social justice causes around the globe.
Campus Ministries organizes feeds and money drives for the homeless on Saturdays over the course of the year.
Keep an eye out for posters advertising events that have the potential to open your mind. And don’t be afraid to go to them.
Being a peacemaker isn’t easy. It takes courage, resilience and above all, persistence. It begins not with put-downs or physical or emotional harm, but with open dialogue and conversation with one another.
Join a movement for peace. Persevere. Change will come.
“First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then . . . you win.” —Mahatma Ghandi.
Slade is a senior studying language arts education.